Why Buhari should urgently assent to Pharmacy Council Bill
ACPN says law will tackle increasing challenges of drug abuse, misuse
Pharmacists under the aegis of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have given reasons why the executive arm of the Federal Government of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari should urgently assent to the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) Bill.
National Chairman of ACPN, Samuel Adekola, and National Secretary of ACPN, Abosede Idowu, in a joint statement said Presidential assent to the Bill would address the recent public health concerns with regards to the increasing challenges of drug abuse and misuse in Nigeria by ensuring stricter regulation and enforcement by the PCN on erring pharmacists and pharmaceutical industries.
They said this development obviously further complicates the perennial woes of fake as well as falsified drugs in the nation and naturally should bother all promoters of good pharmacy practice in Nigeria.
According to the ACPN, for emphasis the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) Bill 2017 should be assented to because it is very consistent with similar laws in the Commonwealth league of nations, where regulatory laws and statutes have become very sacred in keeping pace with the norms and ethos of public health. They said examples of such pharmacy regulatory laws in some Commonwealth nations include: General Pharmaceutical Council of Great Britain; Pharmacy Council of Ghana; Tanzania; Kenya; South Africa. Others, they said, are National Association of Boards of Pharmacy in United States of America (a wholly Government owned pharmacy regulatory body); and Pharmacy Council of Canada among others.
The community pharmacists said it is a statement of fact that many less endowed African nations have today polished their pharmacy laws to meet global best practices such that the terminal consequences of poor statutes, weak enforcement, and so on which engender easy access to drugs to promote the vicious cycle of drug abuse and misuse, falsified drug syndrome among others are gradually being eliminated in these climes. “This is the same purpose the new Pharmacy Council Bill is intended to achieve,” they said.
The pharmacists said another reason why the bill should be assented to is because one of the philosophies of the National Drug Policy 2005 is to guarantee that Nigerians have access to safe, efficacious and affordable medicines.
They explained: “This is a cardinal responsibility of every Government to its citizenry. One of the major benefit packages of PCN bill is that it opens a unique window of competence driven service rendition at all levels. The new satellite pharmacy concept gives us the prospects of additional pharmaceutical premises in hundreds of thousand range manned by registered pharmacist.
“The Bill provides that any pharmacist who has over ten year post-qualification experience can own a satellite pharmacy not withstanding his primary practice option. What this does is that professional service points in pharmacy will increase from about five thousand we currently have to over one hundred thousand in Nigeria.
“These satellite pharmacies in turn have mandate to provide oversight in a manner of hub and spoke model over the patent and proprietary medicines vendors thereby improving their regulation.
“The enforcement of sales of medicines in only registered pharmacies and patent medicines stores by the PCN is the only way to permanently redress the menace of drug abuse and falsified drug syndrome in Nigeria. This has been prescribed by the Poison and Pharmacy Act.”
The ACPN also noted that the PCN Bill 2017 clearly prohibits sale of drugs in authorised places such as open drug markets, this in essence is in tandem with the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) which is the official government tool structured to impose decorum in the unwieldy drug distribution channels which Nigeria currently contends with. They said, today, as it stands government moves to replace the unlawful open market structures with Coordinated Wholesale Centers (CWC) need to be grounded in lawful templates which the PCN bill guarantees. According to the pharmacists, the responsibilities of the critical stakeholders and in particular our regulators like PCN, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as well as police will automatically be enhanced once all the necessary reforms are formalized.
The ACPN said the existing pharmacy laws are laced with very substantial antiquity because the first pharmacy ordinance was enacted in 1887 and this has been tinkered with severally through a series of metamorphosis in evolving Acts till the modern-day variants like the PCN Cap 17 LFN 2004 and the PPA Cap 535 LFN 1990.
The consequences of this acts of negligence, they said, remains the vulnerability of the PCN and Federal Government and the Honorable Minister of Health to unending litigations, which reduces the efficiency of the PCN in carrying out its statutory mandate.
The community pharmacists said the PCN bill in question has also removed all ambiguities with regards to offences and relevant commensurate sanctions applicable to all players. This, they said, is particularly significant because owners of unregistered premises, those who sell products they are not legally licensed to sell and those who violate the condition precedence attached to their licensure will better appreciate the consequences of their unlawful endeavors and acts.
According to the ACPN, flowing directly from above, the PCN bill particularly compels pharmacists to show more responsibility in their professional practice. “The need for discipline is showcased at greater heights because the disciplinary tribunal is geared to wield the big stick on erring pharmacists and pharmaceutical premises in the best interest of consumers of health,” they said.
The community pharmacists said the PCN bill also has the unique feature of unhindered empowerment as all professionals and their cadres of practice are registered as distinct legal entities. They added that the PCN bill will therefore feature for public consumption a gazette of registered pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, registered retail, wholesale, importation, manufacturing, CWC and satellite pharmacies. The ACPN said the peculiar registration format will also highlight all patent and Proprietary medicines vendors license holders in Nigeria for proper scrutiny.
The community pharmacists said the PCN bill has also taken care of effective management of resources by presenting a robust yet broad spectrum structure that can work maximally in the interest of the pharma-sector to enhance service delivery at all times. “Finally, the ACPN appeals to the Federal Government to heed this clarion call to engender a new agenda of productivity, professionalism, self-sufficiency in local production and regulatory excellence in the pharma-sector. These achievements will change the narratives and place the pharma-sector in good stead to contribute to National Gross Domestic Products (GDP),” they said.